Microaggressions tumblr’s post about the Disney Princess lunchbag reminded me to go to the Disney Store website to see what has resulted from the franchise’s recent redesign. It was cool to see a diverse array of kids playing with the toys on the website (although it’d be cool to see some boys playing with some of the Princess stuff, alongside the girls, too.)
This designed rolled out alongside the Cinderella blu-ray release. You can tell the merchandise is from the new “generation” because Cinderella has a different hairstyle (loose bangs), Jasmine’s earrings are different, and Belle has substantially more hair. (Note that in the film Cinderella has light brown hair and wears a white dress; in merchandise she usually has bright blonde hair and a blue dress.)
The vast majority of merchandise features multiple white princesses, usually in the forefront. Princesses of color may or may not be included, when they are included there is usually only one of them, even when there are more than one of them they are usually in positioned the background or off to the side.
While several items of merchandise feature a group of white Princesses, no items of merchandise as part of the Dinsey Princess product line feature Princesses of color. (Which would be different and heck, I’d buy it.)
There are even several outfits modeled by young black girls that do not feature Princess Tiana and instead feature a cluster of white princesses + Jasmine. There’s even an outfit modeled by an Asian girl that only features white princesses. (That’s not to say that girls of color can’t be fans of the princesses who are white, only to say that it is bizarre that the models are more diverse than the merchandise and that it’s odd that there is no outfit with only princesses of color modeled by a white girl, for example.)
Each product’s design positions the princesses differently, so this is not the case of using the same picture for several different pieces of merchandise. More pictures of merch here.
This merchandise can and does send implicit messages to kids. Disney…you just redesigned your merchandise and the women of color are still absent or on the margins.
I would just like to point out, as I always do, that Mulan isn’t a princess. She didn’t even marry into royalty. Pocahontas passes because as a chief’s daughter, she’s an Indian princess. Just something that’s annoying to me.